U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Excited Delirium Syndrome: Cause of Death and Prevention

NCJ Number
Theresa G. DiMaio; Vincent J. M. DiMaio
Date Published
156 pages
This book introduces a condition known as excited delirium syndrome, the sudden death of an individual during or following an episode of excited delirium.
Blaming the rough treatment individuals may have received during arrest or restraint, criminal and civil cases often cite “positional asphyxia” as the cause of death. However, today there is a proposed different explanation. This is known as excited delirium syndrome. Excited delirium syndrome involves the sudden death of an individual, during or following an episode of excited delirium, in which an autopsy fails to reveal evidence of sufficient trauma or natural disease to explain the death. Excited delirium involves combative and/or violent behavior. This book begins by introducing the syndrome itself and then recounts the syndrome’s history. It examines traditional explanations as to why such deaths occur, and then counters as to why these explanations are not justifiable. It illustrates the effect that stressors, legal medication, and drugs of abuse have on the cardiovascular system. The book details prevention, assesses the role of first responders, investigators, and mental health professionals, and describes those individuals at high-risk for excited delirium syndrome. Several case studies of excited delirium syndrome are presented and its association with mental illness and natural disease, therapeutic medications, and with the use of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs. The book is an essential resource for anyone treating or interacting with those that may have this disorder. References and index